Here we are in November, the month of Thanksgiving. With the forthcoming holiday, it's a great time to reflect on gratitude and the role it plays, or doesn't play, in your life. It may sound cliche, but we need to make sure we express our thanks to everyone who helps and has helped us along the way professionally .
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Once you do it a few times, it becomes a habit , and the positive emotions you create by doing so are lifelong. Your colleague may not remember the details of the project you helped him with years ago, but he is going to remember that you took time to thank him for his help. Bottom line: Take the time to say thank you.
People who've helped you. This could be anyone who's helped you at work, from peers to managers to mentors to advocates. Did somebody give you good advice that you took to heart and implemented? Reach back and say thanks. Did someone help you with a project or an event? Say thanks. Did your mentor go out to coffee or lunch with you to talk about your professional goals? Say thanks. You can thank these people in person, by email, or with a handwritten note. If you do it in person, make it count by explaining why you appreciated their help and how it made your work easier. Don't just breeze by their desk and say, "Hey, uh, thanks for helping on that project."
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People who've referred you or introduced you to others. It goes without saying that if someone has referred you to human resources or a hiring manager, you need to say thank you. If you end up with the job, and depending on your relationship, you may want to consider giving them a small gift of some kind such as a gift card to a coffee shop or even take them to lunch. The same principle applies if someone has referred clients to you or introduced you to their contacts to help you out professionally. You don't have to do much, but acknowledging your appreciation for the referral through an email or note is important.
Emails and notes. Make it a practice to send thank you emails or handwritten notes to people who have helped you in a significant way. You don't have to respond with a "thanks" to every email you receive; be judicious. If a person has given you substantive comments on a report or presentation, say thank you. If someone helped you run an event, send a handwritten thank-you note. Even if you disagree on everything with that colleague or partner, a simple thank-you note or email will leave a lasting impression.
Salutations on emails and letters. "Thanks, Dave." You see it all the time – emails signed "Thanks." It's lost value because it is so overused and no longer feels genuine. Mix it up a bit and be creative. You could say "Many thanks" or "Thank you so much," or something entirely different such as "Best wishes," or "Warmly," just to be different. If the email's overall message is one of gratitude, you don't need to repeat the thanks in the salutation.
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Thanking people who make your work easier. There are people who make things at work run smoothly behind the scenes, but you may not acknowledge them often, or ever. Think about the cleaners, facilities folks and even administrative assistants, among others. You would not be able to do your job without them all. Make sure you take the time to greet them when you see them and say "thank you." Recognizing their work and saying these simple words means so much and may brighten their day.
Now, who do you need to thank?
Making it an everyday practice will reinforce gratitude in your memory and make it easier to incorporate into your professional (and personal) life. Make Thanksgiving come early this year, and often, and continue it into 2017. Expressing gratitude is something we should be doing at work and home year-round. Not only will it lighten your mood, it will brighten someone else's and leave a positive impression that pays dividends for years to come.
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